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Arizona softball: Danielle O’Toole adding to her repertoire in 2017

What will this mystery pitch be?

Danielle O’Toole looking on during Arizona spring practice
Jason Bartel

When you’re entering your fifth season of Division-I softball, it’s hard to keep hitters guessing.

There are reels and reels of tape on you, and it’s increasingly difficult to do something your opponents aren’t expecting.

Or is it?

With Danielle O’Toole, she’s looking to add a new pitch in 2017 that opposing hitters haven’t seen yet.

“I think you can always add stuff,” she explained. “Mentally, you can always gain from everywhere you play or anything you do, you can always be better and always add something. Especially physically, you can add stuff, I just think it takes time, and you have to be devoted to the time.”

But what that pitch is, we’ll have to wait to find out.

“Can’t tell you,” she said through a smile.

But is it up-and-down or side-to-side?

“Both.”

Last year, O’Toole posted a 2.17 ERA in 216 innings pitched, resulting in a 26-12 record. This offseason, she earned a spot on the USA National Team, having an opportunity to pitch in the World Cup of Softball this July.

“I hope it gives her a boost to do well with the University of Arizona, because that’s where she is now,” Mike Candrea said. “I think the big thing about pitching at this level is almost having to recreate yourself. The easiest year is usually your first, because no one knows anything about you, but I think the second and third years, where people have more information on you, you have to work really hard to be one step ahead of everyone.”

“The great thing about Tooly is she has great command of her pitches, and has a great off-speed pitch, so that’s one of those pitches that if you don’t have it, the second and third time around it gets even tougher.”

As a fifth-year player, and second pitching for Arizona, O’Toole is also excited about the new players that have come in, giving her a little extra motivation or energy.

“They have brought a new vibe to the team,” she explained of what has changed with these freshmen. “I think they’re extremely good. All the freshmen have been very excited, and I think that they’ve given us a new life. They’ve breathed a little bit of newness I guess to our team, and it’s much appreciated. After being in college for five years, it’s nice to get somebody bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.”

It’s also given her a little bit bigger challenge in practices.

“Going against our own team, yes it’s hard, but I think the incoming freshmen throughout the Pac-12, they add some very good competition this year,” she said. “Yes, it’s definitely harder, and it’s good for the rest of our team because of trying to beat somebody out for a position even though we’re all friends.”

O’Toole and Arizona open the 2017 season on Thursday, Feb. 9 against Fordham at Hillenbrand Stadium. That Saturday, they will face both Baylor and Northwestern. Pac-12 play begins March 17 at Oregon State.